The Dead Room
The end of the world has long been a staple in fiction, particularly horror or spec fiction. For the writer, it gives them chance to show the complete destruction of human society; for the reader, it’s chance to see everything they know as comforting and familiar torn away and to wonder how they might react or deal with the apocalypse on a personal level. After all, a hundred deaths are a tragedy while a million is a statistic. So, what about seven billion?
Death is the big one in human experience. The final. The curtain call. The unknown country. Whatever we may believe, we don’t know for a fact what’s on the other side of our lives, so there’s no way we really have a clue what we would do in the event of the death of everything. When our societies, our governments, our countries and all that keeps us safe breaks in two, what’s left but simple survival for us and our families?
I’ve written about the apocalypse from various angles several times because the scope and the sheer horror of it gives me, as a writer, much room to play with. The Dead Room is no exception for the most part. I’ve always been drawn to the fine details of a story, the stuff lurking (never waiting, always lurking) in the background. The focus here isn’t a huge, sweeping tale along the lines of The Stand. We’re with two women and their connecting stories, following them from a small town in middle England and into another town which could be described as Anywhere, UK with both places and everything in between part of that unknown country.
Britain (and potentially the world) has been wiped out by the release of a highly virulent contagion; in the space of a few weeks, all the noise of social media, arguing political parties, and reality TV is just as dead as the land of villages and cities. Nicola Allen, at the family home a couple of hundred miles from her husband and young daughter when the virus is released through a series of dirty bomb detonations, does not give a shit about that dead land. She will find her family. Nicola’s sister-in-law Cate doesn’t know what Nicola is attempting to do; Cate’s business is survival. And that means running from a threat she can’t face. But like all of our horrors, that threat won’t be ignored.
I don’t think our brains are wired to cope with the magnitude of what the end of the world would mean on a literally global scale. We’re animals; we’re selfish when it comes to our survival and it’s only the family and friends and safety of the world continuing day in day out that tempers that selfishness. Take all the good of our lives away, blow buildings down and unleash a microscopic killer that becomes a pandemic in days and we’re left with ourselves as individuals, not as part of any society or country. When it comes down to that, how do we stay alive. Do we kill? Do we rob? Do we burn whatever’s left if by doing so, we save our children?
Do we face the terrible secret snapping at our heels as we run from it? The secret of who we really are underneath the rule and order we’ve built now that order is wiped out?
That’s up for each one of us to consider, to imagine and to dream and hopefully never have to actually decide.
Either way, don’t worry. The Dead Room is fiction. The apocalypse hasn’t happened. You and your family are safe and all the good of the ordered world stands today.
Seven billion deaths are a statistic, right?
The Dead Room
A week before Christmas, terrorists detonate dozens of dirty bombs throughout Britain and release a man-made contagion, leading Nicola Allen to begin a frantic hunt for her husband and daughter while a nation burns.
Fleeing from a horrendous event she refuses to speak of and desperate to find shelter in a dying country, Nicola’s sister-in-law Cate takes cover in a partly destroyed hospital. Terrorised by visions of mutilated bodies and the screams of phantom children, Cate joins with a group of survivors, all of whom are under attack by ruthless scavengers and looters.
If Nicola is to have any chance of finding her family and if Cate is to escape from the siege, they must reunite and then descend into the belly of the ruined hospital where the horrific truth of what truly connects the two women is waiting for them.
Luke Walker has been writing horror, fantasy and dark thrillers for most of his life. The new novels The Dead Room and The Day Of The New Gods are now available along with The Mirror Of The Nameless, Ascent, The Unredeemed, Hometown, Die Laughing (a collection of short horror) and the dark fantasy Dead Sun. Pandemonium will be published by Hellbound Books in 2020. Several of his short stories have been published online and in magazines/books.
He is forty-one and lives in England with his wife and two cats where he spends his time writing good books and watching bad films.